What does it take to be a good nurse?

Sabrina Loring, RN, MSN, ANP-C, began as a Surgical Technician over 30 years ago, and went on for an AD in nursing. She received her BSN and MSN from the University of South Maine and has practiced as an Adult Nurse Practitioner in Internal Medicine and Orthopedics. Most recently she has been teaching LPN nursing students, writing medical articles and raising her family.

I've always found it interesting to examine a person's qualities and characteristics and then look at the career choices they have make. For example, an organized, precise individual might make a good engineer or banker. A person who enjoys being outdoors could thrive as a contractor or landscaper. The field of nursing is as varied as the individual nurses themselves, but there are inherent qualities that most nurses share.

To begin with, nurses are intelligent. They have to be, to academically succeed in any nursing program. Nursing school curriculums cover science based material and mathematics, subjects that are not necessarily easy.

Nurses are organized and adept at multi-tasking. Consider the OR nurse, keeping track of thousands of instruments, anticipating the surgeon's next move, assisting when needed and keeping count of needles and sponges. Or the floor nurse, balancing multiple patients, always observant for any changes in their conditions, delivering hands-on patient care, interacting with physicians and other specialists, and communicating with family members. I think you get my point.

I believe the ability to be present and practice empathetic listening is crucial to being a good nurse. Sometimes that's all you can do for a patient or family member. Imagine the mother of a terminally child. A nurse's calm presence and unconditional listening can be a tremendous comfort when there are no right words.

Nursing isn't all glamour. After all, we take care of people when they are not at their best. A sense of humor can go a long way in some less than ideal situations!

Caring is the foundation of nursing care. Nurses freely choose to care about people. They have a respect for the uniqueness and worth of people. Webster's definition of altruism is "the principle or practice of unselfish concern for the welfare of others." While not absolutely essential, altruism is a quality shared by many in the nursing field, particularly in direct patient care. These strong values and collective qualities are some of what it takes to be a good nurse.